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Stein Bill Would Toughen Kentucky Lobbying Law

State Sen. Kathy Stein of Lexington wants to beef up Kentucky’s legislative ethics code. Legislation she’s offering would give Kentucky a true “no cup of coffee” law, prohibiting lobbyists from purchasing meals or beverages for individual lawmakers. Right now, each lobbyist may spend up to $100 per year on food and beverages for each legislator.

“When it comes down to individuals and individual families and candidates, the ‘no cup of coffee’ rule complete should be enacted, I believe. We get plenty of chances to eat and drink on the dime of these folks,” Stein said.

Stein’s bill would also prohibit employers of lobbyists and political action committees from making campaign contributions to legislative candidates or legislators during regular legislative sessions. Current law already restricts such activity for lobbyists, but not their employers.

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More Than 600 Lobbyists Signed Up For General Assembly

During the 30-day session of 2011 Kentucky General Assembly, which starts Tuesday, hundreds of lobbyists will be working the hallways of the State Capitol.

Nearly 670 businesses and organizations have registered with the Legislative Ethics Commission as employers of lobbyists for the 2011 legislative session.

The employers have 641 lobbyists working for them.

Among newly registered employers are a Cincinnati real estate business, a Japanese pharmaceutical company and Lifesaver Interlock, the Cincinnati-based maker of ignition interlock devices designed to prevent drunken driving.

Legislation requiring the use of ignition interlock devices for some Kentucky motorists has already been filed by Rep. Dennis Keene of Wilder.

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Kentucky Lobbying Reports Released

The most recent spending reports for entities lobbying the Kentucky General Assembly have been released and health-related businesses are the top spenders.

The biggest spender to date is Consumer Healthcare Products Association, which represents manufacturers of non-prescription medicines.  They’ve spent $327,000 lobbying against further restrictions on the sale of pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in illegal methamphetamine. 

University Health Care, which operates Passport, is the second biggest spender, at $132,000.  Passport lobbying expenditures have been halted in the wake of a scathing state audit of the managed care plan, which provides health care to Medicaid recipients in the Louisville area. 

Outside the health industry, other top spenders include the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the Kentucky Retail Federation, the Kentucky Education Association and the Kentucky Farm Bureau.

So far this year, almost $12 million has been spent on lobbying in Kentucky.  The state has more than 640 registered lobbyists.

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Lobbyists Continue To Spend Big In Frankfort

The Kentucky General Assembly may not be in session, but corporate lobbying expenditures continue unabated.

The legislature’s regular session ended April 15th. A six-day special session on the budget ended May 29th. But lobbying expenditures continue.

From the beginning of May to the end of August, 20 companies and organizations spent nearly $800,000 lobbying Kentucky lawmakers.

The top spender – at more than $90,000 – was Altria, the parent company of Phillip Morris. Other big spenders were the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, University Health Care, Keeneland Association, Houchens Industries and the Kentucky Farm Bureau.

The Legislative Branch Ethics Commission says since January, almost $12 million has been spent on more than 600 lobbyists often found in Frankfort.

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Frankfort Lobbying Expenditures Continue To Rise

By Tony McVeigh, Kentucky Public Radio

The amount of money spent on lobbying Kentucky lawmakers has grown significantly in the last 12 years, according to the latest figures released by the state Legislative Ethics Commission. 

During this year’s regular session, which ended April 15th, lobbyists and their employers spent more than $8.4 million communicating with lawmakers, the executive branch and staff.  Of that, $148,000 was spent on receptions. 

In 1998, $8.1 million was spent on lobbying during the entire year.  That more than doubled by 2008, when almost $17 million dollars was spent.  This year’s lobbying expenditures are on track to go even higher. 

During the 2010 regular session, there were 667 lobbyists, or about five lobbyists per Kentucky lawmaker.  The national average among state legislatures, according to the Center for Public Integrity, is three lobbyists per lawmaker.

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Report: Lobbyists Spent Most On Health Care Issues

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

Health care, not gambling issues, attracted the most lobbying dollars during the regular session of the 2009 Kentucky General Assembly.

The Legislative Ethics Commission’s July report indicates health care interests spent $1.3 million lobbying lawmakers during the 2009 regular session.

Energy and utility groups were second, spending $561,000. Racing and gambling interests were third, spending $419,000. Next were public and private organizations, tobacco interests, banking and financial services and the insurance industry.

Total spending on lobbying in the first four months of 2009 was $6.7 million. During the same period, lobbyists reported spending zero dollars on food and beverages for individual lawmakers.